I recently lost my grandmother this past weekend. She in a lot of ways had a hand in raising me to be the woman I am today. She was 101 and therefore taught me a thing or two that has helped me grow in my career and personal life.
Here's what I've taken away from my time with her:
1. Be Independent
I will always hold this quote from her near and dear to my heart, when asked after my grandfather died if she thought she’d ever get re-married again, she responded with, “I don’t need a man around to tell me what to do!” As a woman born in 1915, it’s pretty remarkable that she knew her self worth wasn’t based upon being with a partner. Now I’m not saying being alone is what everyone needs to be, but being ok with it and learning to be alone is important because as much as you can have friends and family around, it’s important to know who you are and how to take care of yourself. My grandma was a beautiful walking example of this.
2. Demand Respect
My grandmother was the type of woman to call anyone out and was not afraid to do it. I never met anyone that didn’t respect her. Honestly I think it’s cause her main goal was to scare you a little until you won her respect, but it worked she was respected by men and woman equally and I always admired that about her. She raised four girls and all four of them were instilled with that Bad Ass no bullshit trait. Sometimes not always being nice 100% of the time pays off in the long run.
3. Practice Kindness
Don’t get me wrong, my grandmother terrified me sometimes and at one point I classified her as the “mean Grandma”, under all that she had a heart of gold. She always gave back for good causes and helped out whenever she could in anyway. Even if it was just a dollar or driving her friends that couldn’t drive to the beauty parlor, she was there to help. It was important to her to be a good person and be kind to others. She always told me that kindness doesn't expire. she's right.
4. Be a Natural Beauty
I developed white hair by age 25, so I began dying it. After the first time I dyed it I went to Florida to visit my grandma and she looked at me with a very stern face and said, “Did you dye your hair?” I replied, “Why yes do you like it?” with an even saltier expression on her face she replied with, “No it’s too dark!” I then replied with, “But Grandma I’m getting white hair I’m only 25 not an old lady!” Now with a proud smile on her face she replies with, “I started getting white hair at 20 and never died it and all I ever got were compliments.” I’m still not warm to the idea of letting my hair just go white, but I appreciate how proud she was of her natural beauty, it takes guts to feel that way at 20 years old! What a brave woman!
5. Work Hard Play Hard
I grew up on two acres where there was always a lot to be done. Majority of my weekends consisted of yard work and cleaning the house. My grandma ran a tight ship and had a very set way of doing things, so as long as you listened to instructions and did as you were told and did not complain, you were golden. I’ve always thought there was something special about the midwestern work ethic and that’s just it, even if a task is unpleasant or boring you do it to get it done and don’t complain about it even if the weather conditions suck. There was always some aspect of a reward after working, which was anywhere from snacks to a boat ride on the lake. She believed in the "Treat Yourself" mantra even so much that she would take the liberty of calling my father while he was at work at 3pm on a Friday and tell him to come home it was cocktail hour!
It is with a heavy heart that I bid my Grandmother, Bernita Klokner Goodbye! May she have an eternal life with endless dancing and card playing.